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A Family Business Since 1969
In 1948, ten-year-old Curt Howard attended Harold Flax's farm equipment auction in London, Ohio. Small farm equipment auctions were very common across the Midwest United States in the boom years after the second world war. Every two weeks, small-time farmers, smooth-talking traders, quick-tongued auctioneers, and curious bystanders converged on the nine-acre lot for the bimonthly farm equipment auction. The young boy Curt could not have imagined that the lot upon which he stood would one day be his own: his homestead, his enterprise, and the birthright of his sons.
Of course it took a lot of hard work and determination to get there. In 1962, Curt took out an FHA loan so that he could begin farming for himself. He moved onto a 280-acre cattle and pig farm near Lily Chapel, Ohio with his wife, Brenda, and his boys. He never had much money starting out, so he would often attend small equipment auctions in the area to see if he could get a deal on some equipment. One day after a sale, he was loading a small plow onto his flat bed truck and was about to head on back home when a man approached him and offered to buy the plow from him for about twice what Curt had just paid for it. It was a deal. That's when Curt realized there was good money to be made in the farm equipment business.
So when he wasn't farming, Curt would drive his International flatbed truck up out to various auctions, wheeling and dealing equipment, and offering to deliver equipment for people for a modest freight fee. As his prosperity slowly grew, Curt found he had enough money to start buying new equipment to take to auction sales. He began buying rotary mowers and other small implements from Lady & Sons Manufacturing in Tennessee and selling them at the many farm auctions he attended.
Curt's knack for buying, selling, trading, and bargaining did not go unnoticed. In late 1969, Harold Flax, the owner of the farm auction and equipment lot in London, Ohio-- the same one that Curt had attended as a boy so many years ago-- came up to Curt with a proposal. Mr. Flax told him he wanted to retire and get out of the auction business, but that first he needed a buyer. Mr. Flax made it clear he believe Curt to be well-suited to take over where he left off. It was arranged that Curt would buy the business and lot for $62,500 on land-contract: $10,000 down and $10,000 a year until fully paid. Curt risked everything, sold everything he had, and invested all his time and energy into making the auction business more successful than it had been before.
Curt and his five sons ran the London Implement Auction at the small 9-acre lot for the next seven years until, in 1976, they opened their new auction lot north of London on Route 42 (presently Tri-Green Auction). Now known as Howard & Sons Implement Auction, they continued at the new location for the next eight years. In addition to the auction business, Curt became one of the largest New Holland dealers, and carried numerous other lines of farm implements as well.
In 1984, Curt got out of the auction business, but continued buying and selling farm equipment and selling it at the original 9-acre lot. Curt and his wife Brenda travelled the country together in a Volvo sleeper cab, participating in auctions and building a dealership network. For a time, the business went by Howard Equipment, but in order to avoid confusion with his eldest son’s implement business in Iowa, he opted to change the name to Curt Howard Equipment, or C.H.E. Inc. in 1995. C.H.E. Inc. continues to be family-owned and operated to this day, with Curt’s sons, Keith, Dale, and Curt Jr. serving prominent roles in sales, farming & cattle operations, and equipment transport for the company.
C.H.E. is a company built on the knowledge, experience, and intuition that come from years of working with, transporting, and dealing farm equipment. It's that expertise that gives us the edge to stay ahead of the competition and to keep our prices low. And the benefits are handed down to you, our customers, because you know that with C.H.E. Inc, you are always getting the best price for quality equipment.